With only 10 days until the start of the season, we still don’t know exactly how Juventus’ forward line is going to look. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence going into the season, especially given one of the few things that has been widely reported about new coach Andrea Pirlo’s intentions are his wish for a more traditional No. 9.
The Luis Suarez rumors have been flying for a long time now, but that move seems to have entered a holding pattern, and reports by Mundo Deportivo and Deportes Cuatro are casting doubt as to whether it will materialize at all. But it looks like the team hasn’t been putting all its eggs in the Suarez basket. According to Marca, Juve have made a €50 million bid to bring Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata back to Turin.
That smell you smell is me lighting a bunch of votive candles.
Morata could be an excellent signing for Juventus. He’s only 27—which is amazing considering how long he’s been around—and he’s got experience working with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala. He’s frankly the perfect candidate for the striker spot. The problem is that Atleti, who only just completed their obligation to buy him from Chelsea after an initial €7 million loan, aren’t particularly keen to sell, and are insisting on his €150 million release clause to let him go, or at the very least a significantly increased offer, something that isn’t likely to happen given the extreme crunch Juve seem to be in financially.
A sale or two could potentially raise those funds, but those are similarly stalled. A report from Calciomercato says that the team hasn’t been able to find a buyer for their prime sale candidates, particularly Douglas Costa. Anticipated offers from clubs like Manchester United either haven’t arrived or are seriously lower than the club’s asking price. It’s also suggested that Costa doesn’t intend to take any offers from China or the Middle East. With a similar dearth of offers for Federico Bernardeschi, for the time being it looks like neither winger will be able to add anything else to Juve’s transfer war chest. If the team ends up stuck with them at the end of the transfer window, it will be yet another indictment on Fabio Paratici’s ability to sell players on favorable terms.
If there’s one glimmer of positive news, it’s that there is reportedly progress on the termination of Gonzalo Higuain’s contract. According to Tuttosport (h/t Football Italia) a deal is nearly complete, one that will pay out just shy of half of his remaining salary. He will then likely follow Blaise Matuidi to Inter Miami in MLS.
That, of course, puts a lot more pressure on the front office to actually sort out the No. 9 situation. Replacing Higuain has been one of the priorities this year, but if he does leave without that replacement in place it won’t be a good look at all.